Arkansas has taken a couple of hits in the past week and a half due to injuries suffered in their pitching staff. Peyton Pallette suffered what looked to be an elbow injury during the Florida series. He had become your really solid day two starter during conference series.
A minor scare during the seventh inning of Saturday’s SEC Tournament semifinal game between the Razorbacks and Mississippi Rebels was concerning. Middle reliever, Zebulon Vermillion had a throwing arm injury, too. However, head coach Dave Van Horn shared that Vermillion has been suffering from a bicep cramp lately that flared up during Saturday’s game.
After four pitches, Vermillion was pulled to the dugout and in came seldom used and former starting pitcher, Connor Noland. The junior had only thrown a total of 7 1/2 innings with an ERA of 11.74 and had seemed to have lost his velocity, something he was known for during his freshman season.
During yesterday’s victory, Noland would close out the final three innings recording his first save of the season. It was nearly reminiscent of his freshman season. If that type of pitcher, one that has matured and worked his way back to adoration with pitching coach Matt Hobbs it will be completely welcomed to the mound.
Arkansas needs Noland in a bad way. They need his command of the mound. The composure when things seem to sour, like they did when he entered the game, was a welcome sight. Noland got into a bind or two but he would pitch out of it.
Big time players make big time plays at big time moments in big games. Some of the pitches he threw were due to the development of what he has become at Arkansas. A guy with a blue collar work ethic and being a great teammate is applauded in Fayetteville.
Someone that hasn’t always had things given to him. Noland is a guy that will work his way back to the top and it’s not in the sexiest of ways.
Many fans hollered for him to never see the mound in a Razorback uniform again when he worked 0.2 innings against LSU back in March. Noland allowed six runs on six hits which were all earned. He also allowed two home runs, too.
Noland is a guy that could have sulked his way through the season. He has the opportunities to quit and give up. That isn’t the Arkansas mentality. Like I said, Arkansas is full of those blue-collar guys. Those that show up early and stay late to ensure that they get the job done. Today, against Ole Miss, Noland got the job done.
When all the attention seemed to be on Evan Burton and his ....antics....
Noland began quietly putting together a save, as unlikely as it seemed. He would walk only one Ole Miss batter in his three innings pitched and that was in the seventh inning. He still didn’t allow a run either. He wouldn’t allow a base runner in the eighth or ninth innings while also recording four strikeouts including this in the tweet below.
Connor Noland, Filthy Breaking Ball. pic.twitter.com/ui5cXrOCNb— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 29, 2021
Noland’s late game heroics ensured Arkansas a spot in Sunday’s championship game matchup with fourth ranked Tennessee. That game will be at 2 PM CST and broadcast on ESPN2. You can also listen to the game on any Razorback Sports Network affiliate to beer Phil Elson on the call with Bubba Carpenter as his color man.